The Duhks (pronounced "ducks") is an unusual name for a band. But, this is an unusual band. This fivesome from Winnipeg, Manitoba, defies classification. The band was the brainchild of banjoist Leonard Podolak, whose father Mitch founded the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Podolak compiled the band after the break-up of his previous band Scruj MacDuhk. Recruiting the best musicians, the Duhks formed: soul singer and lead vocalist Jessica Havey, Cuban-inflected percussionist Scott Senior, Canadian Scots-Metis fiddler Tania Elizabeth, and Celtic guitarist Jordan McConnell. The band plays a sometimes high-energy blend of Appalachian old-time string band, Irish fiddle tunes, and kick-ass rock/folk fusion. Other times they are playing delicate finger-picked traditional instrumentals.
The band is a magnet for good songs. Most of the songs on their debut are traditional or culled from other songwriters, including Paul Brady, Ruth Ungar, Sting, and Leonard Cohen. Many songs are seamlessly intertwined with original instrumentals.
The album opens with Death Came a Knockin', almost an Appalachian spiritual-sounding song. Havey builds the song up into a frenetic pace by the end. Her soul background proves a strength throughout the album. Belting the chorus of True Religion, Havey sings "Who's gonna make up my dyin' bed, when I die?"
The band's first single is Mists of Down Below. It's got an infectious guitar riff, powerful lyrics, and spine-tingling vocals. The blending of the vocals of Havey and fiddle player Tania Elizabeth recalls the Australian band The Waifs. The song concludes with an original tune "Meghan Hayden's," further allowing Eliazabeth to display her fiddle prowess.
The CD also contains a multimedia package for computers featuring photos, bios, and an 8-minute video introducing the band, interspersed with concert clips. Bela Fleck says the Duhks are his "new favorite band." He ought to know, as he coproduced the album with Gary Paczosa. The more I listen to this CD, the more compelling it is.
Page design by David N. Pyles